CD Review: Charlie Cawood – Blurred in Motion

The second solo album from composer and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Cawood, was released on September 6th 2019. A veteran of the London music scene, he’s best known as bassist of critically acclaimed psychedelic octet Knifeworld, and instrumentalist/co-arranger for Emmy-nominated classical choir Mediaeval Baebes. Whilst his debut album took a 7-year period to come to fruition, Blurring Into Motion took just over 3 months to conceive and write, followed by a further year of meticulous orchestration. Collaborators include iamthemorning’s Marjana Semkina, who contributes vocals and lyrics to two tracks, as well the cream of the London classical music scene. 

And what he, and they, produce is something far away from a rock album. Maybe not something Classic FM would endorse, but maybe Simon Mayo’s classical venture Scala? Because there is indeed a light classical feel to this album. As well as a touch of English folk. And a nod to the jazzier side, and even avant garde, with its keenness for the unusual melodies and interlocking or repeat phrases. Primarily instrumental, most songs develop their rhythm from an introductory melodic structure on finger plucked guitar, piano or other instrument. Cawood then cleverly constructs and weaves the orchestral instruments over this base, each instrument beautifully recorded, swooping and swapping lines, rising and raising emotions. To quote Charlie: “Blurring Into Motion was written during an incredibly intense period, when I experienced manic creative highs and the worst depressive lows. I wanted the album to be a reflection of this time.”  The listener picks up those tensions or reflections, each song structure creating a labyrinth to get lost in.

This is an album that doesn’t warrant a track by track dissection. It is delicious wholesome instrumental goodness, where the delightfully played instruments interact, combining, sparring and playfully engaging with one another. At times with an Oldfield feel (Incantations) or an essence of Pierre Moerlen’s intricacy (Time is the Key) courtesy of some gorgeous vibraphone, or a more classic orientation, Charlie’s skilful arrangements utilise the classical orchestral elements, but in a stripped back format that allows individual instruments freedom and opportunity. It’s not an album to grab you by the ears and demand attention. But it is one that should be admired for its surface simplicity and savoured for its pleasing depths.

Tracklisting

  1. Dance Of Time 
  2. The Stars Turn 
  3. Falling Into Blue 
  4. Abyss Of Memory 
  5. The Dark Within
  6. Blurring Into Motion 
  7.   From Pure Air 
  8.   A Severed Circle
  9.   The False Mirror
  10. Flicker Out Of Being 
  11. Between Two Worlds 
  12. Voice Of Space 

 

Credits

Charlie Cawood – acoustic, electric and classical guitars, acoustic bass, bass VI, handclaps 

With: 

Marjana Semkina – vocals on ‘Falling Into Blue’ and ‘Flicker Out Of Being’  

Alice Barron – violin 

Georgia Hannat – violin 

Maddie Cutter – cello 

Robyn Hemmings – double bass   

Julie Groves – flute, piccolo 

Emily Susanne Shapiro – clarinet 

Ben Marshall – cor anglais 

Robyn Hemmings – contrabassoon   

Lucy Brown – French horn 

Nathaniel Dye – trombone   

Maria Moraru – piano 

Elen Evans – harp   

Beibei Wong – vibraphone 

Catherine Ring – glockenspiel 

Evan Carson – bodhran, percussion   

Steve Holmes – minimoog, bass synth  

 

Composed and orchestrated by Charlie Cawood, except ‘Falling Into Blue’ and ‘Flicker Out Of Being: music by Charlie Cawood & Marjana Semkina; lyrics by Marjana Semkina. 

 

Produced by Charlie Cawood and Amir Shoat. Engineered and mixed by Amir Shoat. Mastered by Bob Synovitz at Golden HIVE Studios, Prague for Bad Elephant Music

 

Original cover art by Mark Buckingham

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